Parents voice Pathway to Greatness concerns at final board meeting ahead of realignment plan recommendation

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OKLAHOMA CITY - Continued concerns about transportation, community impact, benefits and even an appeal to a higher power for wisdom were just some of the topic raised by parents about Oklahoma City Public School's last school board meeting before the recommended district realignment plan is presented next week.

Change is, inevitably, coming to Oklahoma City Public Schools. Parents are, inevitably, concerned about the closure of up to 18 schools under three options, part of the district's Pathway to Greatness project.

"Doesn't understand why, if these schools were built in the first place, with a purpose to be educational centers, why - years later - we are going to decide to shut them down," said Horace Mann Elementary parent Maria Pacheco through a translator.

"I'm here to ask that you guys seriously understand that to not make a choice on one of these plans is to say that it's okay for things to stay the way that they are," said Tia Cookson, an F.D. Moon Elementary Academy parent. "And, it's not."

In the days after the three paths were announced last month, to realign the district to better use resources and better serve students, many felt surprised by the coming changes. But, Monday, some acknowledged the district has made efforts to educate everyone about the process.

"But, they're concerned, scared, and they're angry because they feel the Pathway to Greatness was developed in a vacuum," said Jim Rogers. "We, as parents, guardians and stakeholders, bear at least some of the responsibility for getting caught flat-footed by the Pathway to Greatness progress. Regardless of why that has happened, you have our attention."

An attention that now turns to next week when the board will be presented with its recommended path, that proponent hope will bring about needed change. Change that some of the plans youngest stakeholders offered up a spiritual appeal to all.

"We need to listen to others and take their ideas seriously. Then, we can take the path that takes us forward, takes our schools forward and leaves no one behind," said Nichols Hills Elementary 3rd grader Henry Bowman. "Give us more compassion and the ability to listen to others ideas. Remind us to always give respect and kindness, even when we disagree. We pray, in Jesus' name. Amen."

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